This is one of several findings from Ford Car Buying Trends 2014, a study of new car buying habits in 22 countries across Europe, highlighting regional trends and national differences that both conform to and confound expectations.
The study shows that white surpassed black last year as the most popular car colour across Europe, according to an analysis of more than 500,000 Ford vehicle purchases in Europe in the past year. The fast growing car colours in recent years have been brown and orange.
Among the counterintuitive findings were national preferences for sunroofs. Buyers in Norway, more known for snow than sunshine, were the most likely to choose a new Ford with a sunroof (15 per cent) just ahead of France (11%) and Germany (10%). Drivers in sunny countries meanwhile were among the least likely to specify sunroofs: Spain (5%), Italy (3%) and Greece (2 %).
Buyers in chilly Norway were also the most likely to buy a new Ford with automatic air conditioning (80%), ahead of Belgium (77%) and Netherlands (71%). Some of the most likely to buy cars with manual air conditioning were drivers in sunny Turkey (96%) and Spain (92%).
Not surprisingly, Scandinavian drivers also were the most likely to specify heated seats, with 99% of Ford cars bought in Sweden, Norway and Finland featuring the technology.
Across Europe, the most popular colours are white (23%), black (20%) and grey (17%) – with one of the three colours the top choice for every single country except Ireland, Poland and Romania, where silver – the fourth most popular colour in Europe (14%) – is the preferred option.
British car buyers, perhaps a nod to England’s red-coated soldiers, are the most likely in Europe to buy a red Ford. While Romanian buyers are the most likely to choose a Ford with a blue paint job. Norwegians like brown cars more than any other country (12%).
Wagons offer a more practical option for Mondeo and Focus buyers. These appeal most to drivers in Denmark (86%), the Netherlands (79%), and Germany (78%); with 5-door versions of the same cars most likely to find a home in Greece (95 %), Spain (87%) and Britain (83%).
German drivers have specified the technology on 63% of new cars, and even more (74%) choose Active City Stop. The Swiss (also 63 per cent), Portuguese (53 per cent) and Austrians (50 per cent) also choose Active Park Assist; while drivers from Belgium (36 per cent), and Switzerland (34 per cent) are the next most likely to specify Active City Stop.
An overwhelming 99% of Ford customers bought a new car powered by a petrol or a diesel engine, with less than 1% choosing a model powered by alternative fuels. Petrol is the fuel of choice for 58% of European drivers.
Nowhere are petrol engines more popular than in Russia, where customers choose 97% petrol powered cars, followed by the Czech Republic 80% and Finland 76%. Diesel is most popular in Turkey (64%), followed by Italy (63%) and Portugal (61%).
Drivers in all European countries still prefer a manual gearbox over an automatic one, 85% choose a car with a manual gear stick. In the Netherlands and Ireland that rises to 96% and in Greece and Poland to 95%. Even in Russia, the European market where automatic gearboxes are most popular (48%), there is still a slight preference for manuals.